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The Only Excuse You’ll Ever Need (or Should Ever Use)

… and the research to back it up.
by Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.       on Jul 18, 2015       in Fulfillment at Any Age

Everyone makes excuses from time to time, and some of us do it more than others. Even if you feel like you’re an honest, hard-working, trustworthy individual (as most of us do), there will be situations in which you just don’t or can’t follow through on a promise. Whether it’s attending a family event, meeting a job deadline, going out with friends, or spending an evening helping the kids with homework, invariably we find ourselves feeling no choice but to use an “untruth” (i.e., a lie) in order to avoid disappointing others.

I will not offer guidance on how to be a more believable excuse-teller by fibbing more effectively. In fact, you might not appreciate the advice I’m providing at first, but if you choose to follow it, and make it a habit, you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s the advice, simple and unadulterated: Just tell the truth.

Not some version of the truth, or part of the truth, or truth that’s technically true but isn’t the real reason for your behavior. It’s got to be, as they say, “the whole truth.”

If you do it, you’ll never again forget which excuses you made to whom, because the truth will be at the bottom of all your explanations. At an ethical level, telling the truth helps you to believe you’re a good and honest individual while allowing you to behave in ways consistent with that self-image.

Before getting to the reason for this advice, let’s look at three faux excuses that don’t measure up to the truth:

  1. The version of the truth. You were late for a meeting due to lingering too long over your latte. There was a particularly busy rush hour that day, so you offer as your excuse, “Traffic was terrible today.”
  2. Part of the truth. You don’t really want to go to the Jack-and-Jill wedding shower you were invited to, so you give as your excuse the fact that your family is coming into town that day. It is true they’re coming, but the shower will be long over by the time your folks arrive in town.
  3. Technically the truth. Some lawyers are expert at giving reasons that are true but only in the technical sense of the word. It is possible, using this logic, that you only remembered your friend’s birthday 3 days after it was over. Your excuse may be that you think it’s much better to wish someone happy birthday in person. Technically that is true, but it’s not why you missed the big day.

In each of these cases, an honest excuse would have involved some loss of face or admission of fault; you’re not perfect after all. However, you would at least be spared the burden of having to remember all the surrounding details of the excuses you gave.

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When communicated in a straightforward manner, being honest about the reason for your stumble allows the other individuals involved to feel empathy with you. If you provide an explanation that makes sense—and is 100% truthful—they should be more inclined to try to understand the situation from your perspective. Everyone is late sometimes, we all forget important occasions, and plenty of us prefer a Sunday afternoon alone than in the company of people opening presents.

Putting your reasoning out there in a relatable manner will be more likely to lead others to forgive you.

What the Research Says

Gettysburg College psychologist Christopher Barlett (2013) was interested in the kinds of excuses people make after they inadvertently hurt someone in an interpersonal situation. Maybe they bump into someone and dismiss it with, “I’m having a bad day,” or, “I just had a fight with my boyfriend.” Such excuses provide “mitigating information…defined as factors that may change an initially hostile attribution after a provocation into one that is less personally threatening” (p. 472). The intention of offering such an excuse is to reduce the likelihood that the victim of the shove becomes angry and aggressive.

But do these excuses actually work? 

To answer this question, Barlett analyzed data from 15 studies based on a search of the literature for terms such as anger, misattribution, aggression, and reappraisal. Each study examined participants who manipulated mitigating information to reduce aggression toward them for some type of affront. In the studies, aggressive behavior was measured in a variety of ways, ranging from evaluations by the experimenter to the amount of time excuse-makers were exposed to a (faked) “shock” or keeping their hands in a bucket of ice water. All studies involved manipulating the information that participants received about the cause of the affront and whether apologies or excuses were more effective in reducing willingness to aggress than others.

Supporting the idea that an honest excuse is the best remedy for an affront, Barlett found that when the provocation wasn’t severe, mitigating information (the excuse) reduced aggression when it was considered honest and did not include an apology. The key to making an excuse work, Barlett concluded, is to make it effective in changing the offended person’s appraisal of the provocation.

An effective excuse is detailed enough to provide that key mitigating information and justifies why you thought or did what you did. An apology may seem lame to the recipient because it doesn’t provide that mitigating information. An honest excuse is the best. When you lie about the reasons for your behavior, it’s much more difficult to come up with an elaborate justification that will convince the other person to feel less angry toward you.

As long as the offending behavior isn’t too harsh (such as if you were to injure the other person), your best option is to share an honest, detailed excuse. Justifying your behavior won’t change what happened, but it can change the way the behavior is perceived. It will preserve your relationships and allow you to maintain harmony with loved ones.

Reference
Barlett, C. P. (2013). Excuses, excuses: A meta‐analytic review of how mitigating information can change aggression and an exploration of moderating variables. Aggressive Behavior, 39(6), 472-481.

Susan Krauss Whitbourne

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30 Things To Start Doing For Yourself

Marc and Angel are the authors of 1000 Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently. Here’s their amazing list of 30 things to start doing for yourself. If you enjoy this, be sure to visit their website for more inspirational advice and tips for life. 

#1. Start spending time with the right people. – These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways. They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be, unconditionally.

#2. Start facing your problems head on. – It isn’t your problems that define you, but how you react to them and recover from them. Problems will not disappear unless you take action. Do what you can, when you can, and acknowledge what you’ve done. It’s all about taking baby steps in the right direction, inch by inch. These inches count, they add up to yards and miles in the long run.

#3. Start being honest with yourself about everything. – Be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed. Be honest about what you want to achieve and who you want to become. Be honest with every aspect of your life, always. Because you are the one person you can forever count on. Search your soul, for the truth, so that you truly know who you are. Once you do, you’ll have a better understanding of where you are now and how you got here, and you’ll be better equipped to identify where you want to go and how to get there. Read The Road Less Traveled.

#4. Start making your own happiness a priority. – Your needs matter. If you don’t value yourself, look out for yourself, and stick up for yourself, you’re sabotaging yourself. Remember, it IS possible to take care of your own needs while simultaneously caring for those around you. And once your needs are met, you will likely be far more capable of helping those who need you most.

#5. Start being yourself, genuinely and proudly. – Trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are. Be yourself. Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else. Be the person you know yourself to be – the best version of you – on your terms. Above all, be true to YOU, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.

#6. Start noticing and living in the present. – Right now is a miracle. Right now is the only moment guaranteed to you. Right now is life. So stop thinking about how great things will be in the future. Stop dwelling on what did or didn’t happen in the past. Learn to be in the ‘here and now’ and experience life as it’s happening. Appreciate the world for the beauty that it holds, right now.

#7. Start valuing the lessons your mistakes teach you. – Mistakes are okay; they’re the stepping stones of progress. If you’re not failing from time to time, you’re not trying hard enough and you’re not learning. Take risks, stumble, fall, and then get up and try again. Appreciate that you are pushing yourself, learning, growing and improving. Significant achievements are almost invariably realized at the end of a long road of failures. One of the ‘mistakes’ you fear might just be the link to your greatest achievement yet.

#8. Start being more polite to yourself. – If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. You must love who you are or no one else will.

#9. Start enjoying the things you already have. – The problem with many of us is that we think we’ll be happy when we reach a certain level in life – a level we see others operating at – your boss with her corner office, that friend of a friend who owns a mansion on the beach, etc. Unfortunately, it takes awhile before you get there, and when you get there you’ll likely have a new destination in mind. You’ll end up spending your whole life working toward something new without ever stopping to enjoy the things you have now. So take a quiet moment every morning when you first awake to appreciate where you are and what you already have.

#10. Start creating your own happiness. – If you are waiting for someone else to make you happy, you’re missing out. Smile because you can. Choose happiness. Be the change you want to see in the world. Be happy with who you are now, and let your positivity inspire your journey into tomorrow. Happiness is often found when and where you decide to seek it. If you look for happiness within the opportunities you have, you will eventually find it. But if you constantly look for something else, unfortunately, you’ll find that too. Read Stumbling on Happiness.

#11. Start giving your ideas and dreams a chance. – In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance. You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. Most of the time you just have to go for it! And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win.

#12. Start believing that you’re ready for the next step. – You are ready! Think about it. You have everything you need right now to take the next small, realistic step forward. So embrace the opportunities that come your way, and accept the challenges – they’re gifts that will help you to grow.

#13. Start entering new relationships for the right reasons. – Enter new relationships with dependable, honest people who reflect the person you are and the person you want to be. Choose friends you are proud to know, people you admire, who show you love and respect – people who reciprocate your kindness and commitment. And pay attention to what people do, because a person’s actions are much more important than their words or how others represent them.

#14. Start giving new people you meet a chance. – It sounds harsh, but you cannot keep every friend you’ve ever made. People and priorities change. As some relationships fade others will grow. Appreciate the possibility of new relationships as you naturally let go of old ones that no longer work. Trust your judgment. Embrace new relationships, knowing that you are entering into unfamiliar territory. Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to meet someone that might just change your life forever.

#15. Start competing against an earlier version of yourself. – Be inspired by others, appreciate others, learn from others, but know that competing against them is a waste of time. You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself. You are competing to be the best you can be. Aim to break your own personal records.

#16. Start cheering for other people’s victories. – Start noticing what you like about others and tell them. Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are leads to good places – productive, fulfilling, peaceful places. So be happy for those who are making progress. Cheer for their victories. Be thankful for their blessings, openly. What goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you’re cheering for will start cheering for you.

 

stay positive

#17. Start looking for the silver lining in tough situations. – When things are hard, and you feel down, take a few deep breaths and look for the silver lining – the small glimmers of hope. Remind yourself that you can and will grow stronger from these hard times. And remain conscious of your blessings and victories – all the things in your life that are right. Focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.

#18. Start forgiving yourself and others. – We’ve all been hurt by our own decisions and by others. And while the pain of these experiences is normal, sometimes it lingers for too long. We relive the pain over and over and have a hard time letting go. Forgiveness is the remedy. It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened. It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.

#19. Start helping those around you. – Care about people. Guide them if you know a better way. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you. Love and kindness begets love and kindness. And so on and so forth.

#20. Start listening to your own inner voice. – If it helps, discuss your ideas with those closest to you, but give yourself enough room to follow your own intuition. Be true to yourself. Say what you need to say. Do what you know in your heart is right.

#21. Start being attentive to your stress level and take short breaks. – Slow down. Breathe. Give yourself permission to pause, regroup and move forward with clarity and purpose. When you’re at your busiest, a brief recess can rejuvenate your mind and increase your productivity. These short breaks will help you regain your sanity and reflect on your recent actions so you can be sure they’re in line with your goals.

#22. Start noticing the beauty of small moments. – Instead of waiting for the big things to happen – marriage, kids, big promotion, winning the lottery – find happiness in the small things that happen every day. Little things like having a quiet cup of coffee in the early morning, or the delicious taste and smell of a homemade meal, or the pleasure of sharing something you enjoy with someone else, or holding hands with your partner. Noticing these small pleasures on a daily basis makes a big difference in the quality of your life.

#23. Start accepting things when they are less than perfect. – Remember, ‘perfect’ is the enemy of ‘good.’ One of the biggest challenges for people who want to improve themselves and improve the world is learning to accept things as they are. Sometimes it’s better to accept and appreciate the world as it is, and people as they are, rather than to trying to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal. No, you shouldn’t accept a life of mediocrity, but learn to love and value things when they are less than perfect.

#24. Start working toward your goals every single day. – Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Whatever it is you dream about, start taking small, logical steps every day to make it happen. Get out there and DO something! The harder you work the luckier you will become. While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling, only an astute few of us actually work on it. By ‘working on it,’ I mean consistently devoting oneself to the end result. Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

#25. Start being more open about how you feel. – If you’re hurting, give yourself the necessary space and time to hurt, but be open about it. Talk to those closest to you. Tell them the truth about how you feel. Let them listen. The simple act of getting things off your chest and into the open is your first step toward feeling good again.

#26. Start taking full accountability for your own life. – Own your choices and mistakes, and be willing to take the necessary steps to improve upon them. Either you take accountability for your life or someone else will. And when they do, you’ll become a slave to their ideas and dreams instead of a pioneer of your own. You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life. And no, it won’t always be easy. Every person has a stack of obstacles in front of them. But you must take accountability for your situation and overcome these obstacles. Choosing not to is choosing a lifetime of mere existence.

#27. Start actively nurturing your most important relationships. – Bring real, honest joy into your life and the lives of those you love by simply telling them how much they mean to you on a regular basis. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be everything to a few people. Decide who these people are in your life and treat them like royalty. Remember, you don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.

#28. Start concentrating on the things you can control. – You can’t change everything, but you can always change something. Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery and stagnation. Invest your energy in the things you can control, and act on them now.

#29. Start focusing on the possibility of positive outcomes. – The mind must believe it CAN do something before it is capable of actually doing it. The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful. Listen to your self-talk and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Regardless of how a situation seems, focus on what you DO WANT to happen, and then take the next positive step forward. No, you can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you react to things. Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects – whether or not you’re happy and successful in the long run depends greatly on which aspects you focus on. Read The How of Happiness.

#30. Start noticing how wealthy you are right now. – Henry David Thoreau once said, “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” Even when times are tough, it’s always important to keep things in perspective. You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night. You didn’t go to sleep outside. You had a choice of what clothes to wear this morning. You hardly broke a sweat today. You didn’t spend a minute in fear. You have access to clean drinking water. You have access to medical care. You have access to the Internet. You can read. Some might say you are incredibly wealthy, so remember to be grateful for all the things you do have.

This is such a wonderful list. If we take little steps every day and practice these things, we can make great improvements in our lives. Share this post with your friends and loved ones. |

SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 2014 


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Manifest The Life You Desire

As we journey further down the path of who we truly are, making sure that you are creating a life that also reflects who you truly are is imperative. For our inner and outer worlds coincide and work together to create our realities.

The definition of a Manifestation is: An event, action, or object that clearly shows or embodies something, especially a theory or an abstract idea.

Manifestations occur when you have asked and willed the Universe for something, the Universe will respond based on where your focus lays. You must embody, integrate and put action forth to Be who you truly are and to Create a life and world you call home.

Lack mentality has over taken humanity like a festering disease, causing us to project our focus on the opposite of our desire.

How is this so? It is because we are separate from our self as a whole and isolated from what truly serves us and makes us happy.

When we ask the universe for something, such as abundance, but end up with lack instead; it could be because our actual focal point is on the lack one is experiencing in their life.

This can be Transformed when one see’s the pattern of Lack based thought forms; And in the place of these thoughts one can transform and stop them before they blossom into the weeds that they are. And in the Garden of your mind, May fresh and vibrantly Wild fruit grow.

So when trying for Abundance, first try for gratitude; You must feel abundant to be abundant.

The Law of Attraction teaches us that through our conscious and our subconscious thoughts we manipulate our internal and external reality.This Law is responsible for all of the negative and positive experiences that one may encounter (past,present ,and future) during their lifetime.

Negative energies get stored in the energy field and can  cause Blockages in ones Chakra centers and energy systems with in the body.These  emotions may have never been addressed or validated in the past so they wait for nurturing and love like a child seeking comfort.

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When we can be Aware of what these negative energy’s feel like we can then Transform by sending them the Love and acceptance they desire, to aid in the integration and Evolution of The Whole You. These Negative energy’s can be felt as:  Resentment, Loathing, Soul wounds&fractures, Suppressed emotional/Spiritual/Mental/and Physical desires, etc.

We are encased in a spectacular Human Instrument that when purified of blockages and used correctly can manifest ones truest desires and highest purpose.

So now we are going to get to the Basics, before you take off and began your manifesting know that Focus is key. Humanity has grown cut off and separate from ones true calling and purest expression, causing our focal points to be highly overactive and unorganized.

First, what do you want to manifest into your experience? Why?  What will this manifestation/s bring into your life?

How does what you are working towards materializing reflect you as a unique individual?

If you chose happiness as something you would like to manifest into your life, the key word here is You. What makes You happy? If You are unsure what makes you happy, you can try asking yourself what does not make you happy.

Example- if being lied to is one of those things, then honesty can be something you can implement into your personal life to bring forth true happiness. What can You do right now that will help Honesty be a effortless part of your life?

If Comfort is something you are seeking more of in your life, know what you are asking in great detail. What makes you comfortable? Why do you want more comfort in your life? What makes you uncomfortable, and why?

Example-  something that makes you uncomfortable could be your living situation. What is uncomfortable about it, and why do allow this discomfort in your life? How can you change it to have more comfort aligned to what personally pleases you?

The Universe will only support what You are manifesting into your experience, it is up to you what you will receive.

There is Action required when manifesting the life we want, there is no entity or being that will enter into your dwelling encased in fluid sunlight that will align your life as you wish.

You are that being, you are that entity that can will your life to align ideally to your desires.

Manifesting takes Detail, Focus, Knowing ones truest desires/passions/interests(shadow aspects and all), and Action to “Pull” it all into reality.

If you can see yourself doing something chances, are you can do it.

When trust in ones self, purpose, and Timing is combined with devotion and focus, anything is Possible.

I wish you luck on your journeys in manifesting the life that completely matches you as The Authentic Spark of Light that You are.

FEBRUARY 7, 2015         AMANDA NIX